Civil Unions Test H&R Block, Nation

America’s contrived civil unions can be so taxing!

Just ask Jason Smith and Settimo Pisu, a civil unionized couple from Hartford, Connecticut.

The boys tried to file their taxes on H&R Block’s TaxCut Online website, but received quite a rude message: “We don’t support Connecticut civil union returns.” When will the internet learn manners?

Connecticut passed civil union laws over three years ago, but the national tax company has yet to update their online system. Instead, it directed them to a local H&R Block office or an “online professional,” which apparently costs a pretty pink penny.

The perfectly suburban Smith and Pisu are incensed. As they should be…

Said Smith via the ACLU:

This is yet another example of the many ways that civil unions just don’t live up to marriage. it really stung when I realized it would cost an additional $150 dollars to have our tax returns prepared. We’re saving for a house and hoping to start a family, so every penny counts right now.

The ACLU has already hopped aboard to fight and sent a letter to the company demanding their digital digs get an update. Andrew Schneider of the organization’s Connecticut branch lashed out at H&R Block, saying there’s “no excusable reason” H&R Block shouldn’t “shouldn’t make its products available to everyone.” That’s real. Even realer? ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project lawyer Rebecca Shore’s broader analysis:

Indignities like these are a constant reminder there is no substitution for marriage. Nothing can replace the dignity and universal recognition that comes automatically when you get to say we’re married. In Connecticut, gay couples still can’t do that.

It’s absolutely astounding that situations such as these don’t arouse more national attention. As we saw in New Jersey, where civil unions were legalized last year, the relatively new institution simply doesn’t make the grade. Civil unions aren’t the same as marriage. They’re quite separate and quite unequal. As that state’s Civil Union Review Commission wrote, “Civil union status is not clear to the general public, which creates a second-class status.” Our government’s tenacious commitment to federalism and underestimation of same-sex couples causes a legal headache. And yet the Democrats keep pushing it as the most practical option. Ridiculous.

Calls to H&R Block’s appropriate representative weren’t returned by press time. We’ll let you know if we get word.
Update: We just received a response from H&R Block spokeswoman Denise Sposato. We added some emphasis:

We are evaluating alternatives to add Domestic Partner support to our TaxCut Online programs in the future. Please be assured that H&R Block values all of its clients and is committed to serving all clients fairly. We have been preparing America’s taxes since 1955. Clients trust H&R Block to be their tax partner and we will continue to deliver on this mission.

This is an industry-wide issue affecting TaxCut and our competitors, resulting from the federal government not recognizing the Domestic Partner filing status. With an online tax program, whatever the filing status is on the federal return is automatically deployed to the state return.

TaxCut Online suggests “working with one of our professionals, by phone or at one of our office locations” because interaction with one of our tax professionals enables the ability to construct several returns simultaneously, a feature that is not currently available with any online tax programs. In addition, we offer Online Office that enables users to access one of our tax professionals for tax return preparation from the comfort of their home. We believe these options offer a straightforward and accurate method to serve the Connecticut Domestic Partner filers.

Now, back to our previously schedule post: the Wikipedia map of the United States’ various gay nup laws – or lack thereof. Does that look United to you?

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  • Hells kitchen guy

    It is always the ugly couples – and always one older and one younger, that get their mugs in the news. How stupid to (a) go to H&R Block and (b) think that you can file a Federal Tax return when they are barely married in their own state. Perfect reflection of our gays today.

  • John



    It’s always gays who are bitchy and so shallow I guess?

    How predictable.

  • PalePhoenix

    Presumably, their attractiveness to YOU has no influence on their net earnings for 2007. <_<

    I’m surprised this hasn’t made bigger news already. Not for the inevitable, half-assed boycott of H&R Block (now THAT is the real shame of modern gays…the inability to agree and organize effectively against a major corporation, but we don’t own that failing either), but the fact that taxes–and death–are at the crux of why many of us want gay marriage and equal unions in the first place. (by ‘death’ I mean vital decisions, estates, and whatnot, so don’t start)

    Most could care less if some drab, impersonal State approves of their love life, but it is the second-class citizen status that needs to go. If the tax prep co. can’t get zapped for discrimination, or sued for forcing clients to pay more for services, then they should be the brunt of all pro-marriage jokes for the rest of the year.

    “Did you hear Greg and Brent went to file their taxes jointly?” “Yeah, they got BLOCKED.”

  • Chris

    Um, it was their STATE joint return that H&R Block’s online service wouldn’t complete. Reading is fundamental!

  • Charley

    Right, no civil union or marriage in any of the states are eligible for Federal, the biggie will big benefits, like social security, inheritance taxes, ect.. California is studying it.

  • Kevin Foster

    Jim Crow meets the 21st century! What an utter disgrace, and as the article mentions, our candidates for President are entrenched in their ideas of foisting upon us this broken separate-but-equal notion that is, in reality, only separate.

    Many, many GLBT people, myself included, will NEVER participate in any program like civil unions, or domestic partners because we feel like by doing so we would be finalizing our second-class status. Sort of like accepting the check from an insurance company in a settlement. Screw that! Principled people CANNOT accept this shadow of marriage and maintain the personal dignity at the same time.

  • Charley

    Hells Kitchen,
    We can’t all be morning goods like Levy (remember him, yummy). It’s the quality of a gay man’s character that counts, not the age.

  • Jaroslaw

    Crap like this is a great reason there should be a mass movement to STOP payroll deduction of taxes. As long as it is “painlessly” removed each pay period, we ‘the people’ are mostly numb to the effects AND have no power.

  • hells kitchen guy

    That wasn’t me, but I have a stalker! I’ve arrived!! For the record, I think the couple is as cute as a pair of button, BTW.

  • hells kitchen guy

    pair of buttons

  • Charley

    I guess you can type any name in the Queerty blog name form as a poster and get away with it……Yikes. Like Anderson Cooper, but who would believe it ? LOL

  • Kid A

    I thought they looked adorable.

  • redsocks

    Is there only one guy in Hells Kitchen? LOL

  • PalePhoenix

    “I guess you can type any name in the Queerty blog name form as a poster and get away with it…”

    If true, that’s a little scary. How much code would it take to keep people from using registered names? Anywhore…

    Repeal the DOMA, folks? Sound familiar, yet strangely forgotten about? (I thought “Full Faith and Credit Clause” would be biting off more than we could collectively chew)

  • Adam

    I think they’re both attractive, but the younger guy especially is cute as.

  • hells kitchen guy

    My doppelganger is “Hells Kitchen Guy.” I’m Hell’s Kitchen Guy.” I guess you can change one tiny mark and assume someone’s identity.

  • andrew

    You know, there IS a way around this… I’m not sure how much I fault H&R Block in this case; their software just isn’t designed to deal with preparing a dummy federal and a real federal, and designating the correct version to the state return.

    But, since with HRB or Turbotax, you don’t pay until you file AND you can opt to file JUST a state or JUST a federal return, you can get around this situation yourself by just creating a dummy joint federal return, using that to create your state return, and then only file the state version, and then open a new account to create your individual federal return that you’ll actually file. It’s annoying double-work, but it’s what your accountant has to do anyway.

  • PalePhoenix

    Perhaps someone with significant tax prep experience can answer this, but WHERE on the state or federal forms does it ask more than ‘spouse’ and not ‘sex.’ If it rejected the pro-active desire to function as a fully fledged, married couple, then that would be one thing, but this sounds like an inadequacy of the program and not HRB’s specific heterocentrism.

    What I mean is, why can’t more people just file however they want, and then complain if and when they get audited? We’re not trying to pull a fast one on the IRS. This isn’t a stupid Kevin James/Adam Sandler film. Why not just LIVE as you wish, and then sue when the system actively excludes you, rather than get all bent outta shape about a perceived slight that turns out just to be bad coding?

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